Saturday, November 26, 2011

Merry Christmas....There I Said It for the First Time....Tis the Season

    I dug out the Christmas decorations today and put a few lights up in the bar, although I will wait another week or ten days on putting the classic aluminum tree up.....
    Christmas takes some external force to make you want to mess with strings of lights and tangled garland....I have the usual inflatables too, but they too can wait a little longer...
     When I see everyone else getting worked up over it and decorating, I will follow suit...Oh the neighbors house across the street is lit I guess its 'game on' for the holidays.
     After replacing a few bulbs, I am alight for the holidays.

Shopping for Decor in Search of Affirmation

   After a panning of the Fort Pearl decor recently in the MSM...I figured it was time for a fresher look...I've been cyber shopping the last couple of days for some new metal signs and pictures for the walls....
    I moved the mannequin to a less conspicuous corner, but she still has her Doheny for Congress hat. Some lights are moved and a few things are headed for the dust bin.
Along with the renovated rest rooms, we are aiming for a new feel for the Holidays....
    Nothing radical like a name change, just some modest changes to get a better review....I am working on my handshake too.

NY Hollister store hit by Black Friday looting; other US chain stores report gunfire, pepper spray in violent shopping frenzies -

"Competitive shoppers" mostly went about their business but around the country there are reports of mobs and violence....From pepper spraying other shoppers to storming and looting a store in Manahattan, the accounts are both funny and disturbing....
Most people I talked to yesterday just avoided the spectacle, but there were unconfirmed reports of fights locally....
NY Hollister store hit by Black Friday looting; other US chain stores report gunfire, pepper spray in violent shopping frenzies -

Times Union: Panel to Watch and Hear Ten Dog and Pony Shows

On Wednesday, the co-chairs of the NNY Regional Council will stand before Governor Cuomo's review panel to make the case for our seven county region getting a share of $200M in competitive development funds being handed out through this new process.
Each of ten regions has had to develop a plan and the NNY one was revealed recently after weeks of back channel discussions, lobbying, research and laying out the manifesto labled "Transformational" by its writers.
Since this is the new way the state's economic development programs are being administered, there was no question about locals playing along. While it's an interesting exercise, most people know little about Regional Councils and it will be quite a task for the judges to watch ten of these 90 minute presentations this week.
For those with the time to sit through them all, it would be interesting to note if there is anything new being proposed or whether it's a repackaging of the age old technique of getting Albany to pay for local projects.
State's regions to make their case - Times Union

WDT: Lobbying Ramped Up for PILOTS.....But What Used to Sell Doesn't Anymore

The reason the PILOT talks are stalled is simple. The people are speaking through their elected officials. People are tired of tax giveaways and corporate welfare, and their rage is reflected in a reluctance by county legislators to approve tax breaks that go beyond the usual or "standard PILOT." While the "occupy" movement has a lot of buffonery attached to it, it also contains some core frustrations over income disparity and policies thought to benefit the "one percent."
I have attended the briefings on housing and I understand the critical housing issues this area faces. The problem is that economic growth is litterally stifled by a shortage of affordable housing and yet the cost of building housing is beyond the ability of the market to pay for.
How is that possible ? Well, you literally cannot build anything fairly decent and meeting code for less than say $175K a copy and most wage earners cannot support that kind of housing payment.I don't know what's wrong with manufactured (trailers) housing for those starting out, but that's a whole other debate.
That's why there is so much talk of subsidy of varying kinds to build these projects.
Since this project is not in the City, there is no direct involvement on my part, but I can tell you the last PILOT we approved was the Creekwood project a couple years back and it was barely approved. The proposed Woolworth Building project also is predicated on PILOTS, and frankly I don't know if that would be approved.
For years local leaders have been driven by the mantra of "creating jobs" by abating taxes. Now the public mood has changed and with deficits a constant drumbeat, people are saying no to giveaways, no matter how well intentioned.
This is an interesting debate to follow.

Watertown Daily Times Business leaders’ letter supports housing projects

Harley Women Still Riding as Weather Holds

The unusually warm November weather has people doing all sorts of things they normally would have had to defer till spring. Motorcyclists like the B.O.B. Sisters are still riding this weekend and I expect them to stop at Fort Pearl on Sunday. The Sisters are an outgrowth of Iron Block Harley Davidson and headed up by Dawn, who like me is from Northern California.
Dawn helped me out during the campaign by filling in at the bar while I campaigned.
Look forward to seeing them all on Sunday and hope the weather holds a little bit longer.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Authorities search home of SU assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine

Somebody seems intent on ruining the life of Bernie Fine, the assistant SU coach accused of sexual misconduct over a decade ago, but now in the crosshairs due to the publicity over the Penn State sex scandal.
I don't know too much about Mr. Fine, but this has all the ring of trying to juice a civil suit through seeking a criminal charge and lots of negative publcity against a "public figure."
Plaintiff lawyers often lobby prosecutors for some kind of charge as it enhances their case and puts the defendant on , well..the defensive. Technically that's unethical, but its done all the time.
Of course the guy may be guilty of all said, but if so that's a problem for the whole SU program.
These made for TV searches of a home have a bad smell to them.
I think having "ball boys" travel to distant cities at a young age without their parents is a bad idea and borderline creepy...but there is something fishy about the accuser in this case too...In any event, Mr. Fine's hoop career is done.
Authorities search home of SU assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine

Black Friday fight breaks out at Rome WalMart

Shoppers anxious to make the news and with nothing better to do got into fights at a Rome, NY WalMart early today. Security is a big deal and in Watertown, stores were hiring off duty cops at $15 an hour to provide security.
Black Friday fight breaks out at Rome WalMart NBC-WKTV News Channel 2 - Utica News, Weather, Sports - Local News

Deer of the Day Comes to Your Neighbors Front Yard

       Here's a first for a constituent complaint. A very nice northside woman called and ask if there is a city ordinance against hanging a dead deer in a front yard. Apparently the dressed out animal has been hanging there since yesterday and this neighbor thinks its in poor taste as well as an attraction for dogs and neighborhood kids.
      I know the arguments, so you all can go at it in the comment section. Is it a ritual of sportmanship and the nation's frontier past....or is it 'dead animal show and tell" ?

A Good Night's Sleep Given Up for What ?

      I continue to be amazed at the Pavlovian response American consumers have to this "Black Friday" nonsense.  It's 12:30 AM and I have two people who stopped here after braving the shopping experience on outer Arsenal Street.
      Shoppers at WalMart had to park across the street at Lowes ! There are busses from Canada, and lots of cops to direct traffic. Lots of extra hours for employees....
       "If you don't move, people are just pushing you with's awful," my weary customer told me.
       People waiting to get into Kohl's are lined up to the Verizon store and at Best Buy there are tents and grills set up in anticipation of a 4AM opening.
       Wait a minute.....maybe its the "occupy Wall Street" crowd coming to Watertown !  Nope, its the flip side of our consumer-based economy.
       My advice....stay away and visit your neighborhood tavern on Friday !

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Politics with Benefits

     A fairly uneventful Thanksgiving for most of us. I spent time with family...political family that is...
     I had dinner at the Paddock Street home of Matt Doheny, along with his mom Kay and partner Mary. Uncle Bud was there too, but he shuns publicity, so he took the picture. The menu was turkey, stuffing, and the usual stuff. Good meal.
     Believe it or not we talked a bit of politics.
     After that I went to see my Democrat friends at the home of Councilwoman Roxanne Burns. Mrs. Burns son Colin works for Senator Schumer and was nice enough to arrange for me to introduce the Senator yesterday in Watertown.
     At both dinner venues, there was agreement on who my biggest political foe was in 2011, and it was not my opponent. Funny how people of different parties think alike.
     All in all it was a great day, and I appreciate the hospitality.

Giffords serves Thanksgiving at Ariz. air base –

Courageous Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords spent time on the Holiday serving food at an airbase in Tucson, AZ. Ms. Giffords is still recovering from her head wounds last January and I am sure her appearance was appreciated by troops. She is still pondering a reelection bid.
Giffords serves Thanksgiving at Ariz. air base –

Editorial: Thanksgiving reminds us what counts in hard times - Chicago Sun-Times

I know I have a lot to be thankful for and I am sure you do to. While life has its disappointments and challenges, I will spend today at the business I love running and have worked at for 26 years. I will spend some time at friends homes and talk to Mom on the phone. It's going to be a great day and I hope yours is too.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all and all the best for the Holidays ahead.
Editorial: Thanksgiving reminds us what counts in hard times - Chicago Sun-Times

Watch Sandra Lee's Thanksgiving Dinner with Jimmy Fallon

New York's First Lady demonstrated her fun side with a visit to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Sandra Lee of Food Network fame provides an interesting twist to her role as the Governor's partner since her career is so interesting and independent of Mr. Cuomo's job.
It will be especially interesting when Mr. Cuomo runs for President and she brings her flare for food and decorating to the White House.
Watch Sandra Lee Ruin Thanksgiving Dinner with Jimmy Fallon

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Schumer Visits Arcade for Volley Against Tax on Canadians

   Senator Charles Schumer travelled to Watertown on his birthday and on the day before Thanksgiving to announce an effort to repeal a tax on Canadian air and sea travelers to the United  States.
   Mr. Schumer told an assembly of community leaders and tourism folks that the tax threatens the enormous amount of cross border commerce and tourism that has helped insulate the North Country from the worst of the Recession.
    Yours truly introduced the Senator and Assemblywoman Addie Russell also spoke.
     It was the Senator's 61st birthday...By coincidence, Mr. Schumer was in Watertown last year on this 60th.
     Senator Schumer also expressed optimism on future funding for Fort Drum and was hopeful about efforts at deficit reduction which have broken down in the Capital.

The Day Before

    Today was a day of getting ready for the holiday...I visited a bank to make amends...stopped in the Arcade to chat with the usuals...then went to Sam's Club to get some food for the bar...and did some work at City Hall as well....
    No HOTLINE the rest of the week and tomorrow I will be at Fort Pearl, but also will be visiting a couple of friends.

Republican debate: Candidates come out swinging on GOP national security debate stage as event begins with some fireworks

South Dakota Senator John Thune joined New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte as marquis endorsements this week for Mitt Romney. Meanwhile the eleventh debate was held last night and little new came out other than a gesture of compassion for illegal aliens by Newt and a strong performance by Michelle Bachmann who is widely considered out of the running. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman also put in a strong performance but to little avail.
There still have been no votes cast but that ends soon with Iowa first in line in early January.
Republican debate: Candidates come out swinging on GOP national security debate stage as event begins with some fireworks Mail Online

WDT: Schumer to Highlight Tax on Canadians

The problem with the $5.50 tax on Canadians arriving in the US by boat or plane is not so much the amount of money, but the symbolism of taxing people who are visiting our country in large part to spend money.
Senator Schumer will be in town today to speak on the issue, and will detail his efforts to repeal the measure.
The other day I got a nice note from Kingston Mayor Mark Gerretsen about the election and it was a reminder of the efforts this past year to promote cross-border traffic and good relations. This tax is a fly in that ointment.
When we all talked in the recent campaign about reduced debt and taxes in the City of Watertown, it was in large part due to sales tax generated by Canadian shoppers. That money is what has provided the buffer against declining state aid.
We don't need a $5.50 tax that is short sighted in terms of our relations with Canada and its people.

Watertown Daily Times Sen. Schumer hopes to block $5.50 “Canadian tax”

WDT: Debate Over Spending Looms at Library....Fees Being Collected and Judge Wanted

Volunteers again this year helped raise thousands to help out the Flower Memorial Library....That's great.
One of the emerging issues with the Library is the relationship between the Library Board and City Hall, which is the primary funder of the facility. The library trustees want more latitude in delineating how that stipend is spent and say they have the legal authority to do so.
The job of the Board of Trustees is to oversee the Library operation, but as the source of most of the Library's funds, I support the autonomy on discretionary items, but also expect Council desires for seven day a week operation will be accomplished.
Among other items in city government, the WDT reports the past due bills at Parks and Recreation are being whittled down and a policy on new use of facilities for seriously past due users is being enforced. I still favor users paying up front as that elimnates slow payers and deadbeats.
Finally, as Newzjunky reported this morning, the mayor has to appoint a part time city judge to a six year term. The appointment must come with the advice and consent of City Council and that means the Mayor would screen those interested and make a nomination that would have to be approved by Council. December 15 is the deadline I have set for those interested to contact my office by letter. The one day a week post pays $27,000 a year.
Watertown Daily Times Watertown library book sale raises $10,000

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Weekend Upon Us...Sure Got Here Quickly

       Thanksgiving weekend is a favorite....It starts Wednesday afternoon and I get two days off from the HOTLINE and then its a regular weekend...Its fun to work at the bar and this year I have a couple of invites for Thanksgiving dinner.
       I have the bar covered from 3-7 so I can visit both venues. In keeping with my non-partisan demeanor, one is a Democratic home and the other a GOP enclave. I can't name names for security reasons.
      I don't participate in any of the "Black Friday" nonsense....Too much of a rat race and there is nothing I want to buy this Friday I couldn't have bought last Friday or next Friday.
      The weather forecast is mild and travel will be easy. I hope you all have a great holiday.

WDT- Jefferson board certifies results

Done...finally. A long year and heartfelt thanks to those who helped out.
Swearing in is New Year's Day at noon. Guess the only mystery that day is what do you when being sworn in for the fifth time ?
I will have to Google 'Erastus Corning'.
Watertown Daily Times Jefferson Board Certifies Results

Dedicated Business Owners Make Arcade Special This Time of Year

  One of the joys of the Holidays is the warm sense of the season you get from visiting the Paddock Arcade during the holidays. The indoor shopping area is nicely decorated by the dedicated tenants and with a a couple of eateries, a bar and a coffee shop there is opportunity to sit and enjoy the Arcade.
    I remember the excitement when I was involved in opening the Paddock Club in 1999 and while the building has had its ups and downs, it presently is doing well and gradual improvements will make it even better.
    If you look at that section of Downtown circa 1998 and compare to now, its much better.
   Granted the Woolworth building still looms, but it was much worse not long ago.

48 Years and People Still Wonder

Even though its an event 48 years in the past, the horror of the JFK assassination still makes November 22 a day we notice on the calendar. Theories still abound of what really happened in Dallas.
Its one of those events a generation remembers, although most Americans alive today were not alive when the President was shot. I was a youngster at Brookview Elementary School in Irondequoit NY when we were sent home shortly after lunch. How many other school days from that time in life do I remember with such specificity ?
RealClearPolitics - Revisiting the Kennedy Assassination: Frank Rich and the Paranoid Style

Newzjunky: Our Take is a Little Different

One of the interesting things about having competing news media is that the same events can result in two different leads...The Times story on last night's Council meeting led with the resolution on how to proceed with renovating the former aviary at the Zoo. Newzjunky led with a discussion on the civil service process as it relates to hiring of new management at Parks and Recreation.
I can remember the days many years ago when the Post Standard had a bureau in Watertown and actually covered such events. TV and radio also made it standard fare on Monday nights because the meeting provided an easy array of material for the next morning.
The civil service discussion carried an interesting subtext, while the zoo angle certainly represented conventional news judgement as it was an action that occured.

Anyway, it's nice to read the alternate versions of reality.

Civil Service Requirements Cause Stir with Parks & Rec Job Candidates

Monday, November 21, 2011

Council OKs Zoo Center

     City Council unanimously approved the tentative design for renovating the 30 year old former aviary at the Thompson Park Zoo and making it into a learning center capable of holding up to 80 people.
     Zoo Director John Wright told Council his organization supports the latest incarnation of the project which is scaled back from a previous version but still includes certain items needed for public assembly.
     Council agreed to scuttle the moniker "aviary" since that no longer is what it is ....It will now be named after Mayor Karl R. Burns who was the force behind building the structure in the 80s.
     Lawmakers also approved design work spending on the reconstruction of Factory Street. There was also a lengthy explanation of civil service procedures that left everyone yearning for adjournment.

Let Rex be Rex !

What kind of whiny fan would mouth off to Rex Ryan and then complain about the response....Let Rex be Rex.
Rex Ryan fined $75K for cussing out heckler - CBS News

We Know Where They Live

The 99 percenters are tracking the 1%....Putting out maps showing where they live...There are 27 alone in the 118th AD.....
Lets find 'em and take their money, and then we'll raid their liquor cabinets for all that single malt Scotch and cases of Kendall Jackson wine.
There is a risk in villifying the achievers, even if you think they should pay a little more in taxes.
IWatertown Daily Times Group maps the millionaires

Mayor Burto: Stop !

I think West Carthage already has a traffic light but they are adding four stop signs.
West Carthage - Stop Signs

Brownville Gets a Traffic Light, While I Get Rid of One

The Village of Brownville is getting a traffic light...lots of them....You know, for all the times I have driven through the village, I have never noticed there weren't any, and thats probably because there wasn't a need for them.
I have found people want a light because of a real or perceived safety or more likely congestion problem. It's like four way stop signs.
This weekend I gave away a stoplight that had been littering my business for years because I thought it was a novel decor item.
Turns out it was just a dust collector that got in the way when mopping the floor.
I gave it to a friend so they can dust it and move it around their family room.
Watertown Daily Times Brownville installs its first traffic lights

WDT: More Money To Tell Us What We Already Know

According to this article, the state with no money is going to spend $1.5M on doing interventions on people who drink. The reporter tells us if you break your arm and its determined you had been drinking, the hospital will call in these people to give you an intervention.
I will tell you for free what happens.
Alcohol is a legal product used as a social lubricant and a method of escape from reality. Some people, for whatever reason, drink too much despite all sorts of sanctions already imposed by society. Always has happened and always will. We can urge responsible drinking and moderation but it doesn't always work out that way.
From my perspective we cut people off who have had too much....of course they seldom agree with that assessment, but we all do the best we can.
During the past year, I got beat up repeatedly for expressing concern over the loosey goosey alcohol policies and excessive drinking by some at events held on public property. Nobody from this substance abuse community ever offered a word of support for moderation. There was never a whisper of interest expressed in our efforts to formulate policies for such matters.
I don't think that will get me any of that $1.5 million which is money spent to perpetuate positions and nothing more.
Watertown Daily Times New program in Jefferson County to screen for alcohol abuse problems

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Back to Normal on Pearl Street

    With the non-stop pace of the election over, I have been able to get back to some overdue fix up and clean up projects at Fort Pearl....which is one of Watertown's oldest neighborhood taverns.
    In addition to new rest rooms, I did some rearranging of things and even gave away to a friend the old stoplight that I have been moving from corner to corner for over a quarter century.
     Stop by this week as the Holidays kick off. We are open Thursday of course and I am sure you will find your visit here relaxing and good value as well.  A wide selection of beer, pool, darts, lottery, pizza and other bar foods await and with politics put back in the closet, you won't have to hear about that anymore.
    Stop by soon.

Politico: Super Committee to Fail

If the "Super Committee" fails to reach a deficit deal...that is just fine...The idea of creating a separate body to take the heat for unpopular decisions goes against responsible governing.
Let it fail and let the people we elected do their jobs.
SUPERCOMMITTEE PLANS TO ADMIT FAILURE MONDAY, LIKELY WITH TERSE STATEMENT: 'This marriage is over' -- ALL 12 MEMBERS HAVEN'T MET IN WEEKS: Hail Mary offers continue today -- Biden bday - POLITICO Playbook -

Lady Gaga and father split her fortune -

Anybody who is successful and was helped along the way by their parents wants to repay the favor by helping out the folks....But family can drain you dry and one wonders if pop sensation Lady GaGa is over the top in giving half her earnings to her father.
High strung artists can easily have their assets diminished by those who are "there for them."
GaGa should put dad on a salary and keep her earnings for the day when outrageous doesn't serve her so well.
Lady Gaga and father split her fortune -

Ithaca Opts for Young (very) Mayor

There was a young, energetic mayor elected in upstate New York this month...He is quite young and is now chief executive in a city slightly larger than Watertown. Meet 24 year old Svante Myrick, a disciple of Obama and a product of his mom's drive and inspiration.
Mayor-elect Myrick spent a record $40,000 on his race to become Ithaca's next mayor.
He takes over a city with a $61M budget and the usual list of problems highlighted by a bleeding tax base.....As home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, this city is often jokingly referred to as a liberal enclave nestled in cloth coat GOP Tompkins County.
He worked hard and he won, so let's wish him well. In another year he will be old enought to run for Congress.
Svante Myrick: How a child of modest means became Ithaca's youngest mayor-elect

Bernie Fine's accuser told Post-Standard in 2002: 'I thought I needed him'

Did ESPN jump the gun in "breaking" the Bernie Fine story to coincide with the Penn State scandal ? Or did the Syracuse media bow to pressure from the powerful Orange machine to not run the story nine years ago when Post Standard staff travelled to Utah to interview the accuser but later dropped the story ?
And, is there really a story of any kind in the absence of either an arrest or some kind of credible civil suit ? All good questions for the faculty lounge at SU's Newhouse School of Journalism.
Sometimes those looking for "justice" run to the media to investigate and air their grievances in hopes it will enhance a civil suit.
Bernie Fine's accuser told Post-Standard in 2002: 'I thought I needed him'

WDT: Bussing Concerns Said to Hinder PILOT Talks

One of the reported sticking points in PILOT discussions with two housing developers is the "burden" the extra students will place on the Watertown School District, particularly in terms of bussing students from outer Arsenal Street to schools in the City.
This is one of the dangers of urban sprawl, but it is also a reality of today's world.
There is no K-6 school nearby so even the little ones will have to be split up among schools not in their neighborhood....That's because urban sprawl is not predicated on the notion of neighborhoods, or the quaint notion of walking to school.
Today's developments do not promise you will live near schools, hospitals and churches, but instead offer proximity to Wal-Mart, Target and Panera Bread.
Frankly that is why recent projects in town like Creekwood, Starwood and Summit Wood are much more in line with the old notion of community and neighborhood. Still projects for sure but at least they are part of something greater.
For the sake of solving a housing problem, let's hope these two latest projects get started as they are better than some of the other alternatives being floated, but call me old fashioned, when it comes to going to school, I like the idea of walking there.
Just had a about a land swap...the City district trading these potential students to General Brown in exchange for the future Creekwood Students who will be bussed for miles even though they can see a school from their front yards ?
Watertown Daily Times Watertown City School District discusses PILOTs

U-Haul slams into Yale-Harvard football crowd, 1 dead -

There are certain events which seem to transcend all of societies bug-a-boos about alcohol consumption....Tailgate parties before college football games are one of those rites of drinking in that category...
Twenty one years of age, binge drinking, drinking and driving, public intoxication...All for naught at the Yale-Harvard game, as a student driving a U-Haul full of kegs to a frat party plowed into a crowd of revelers, killing a woman.
I am sure the majority of tail gaters grilled up their sirloin tips, drank a bit and enjoyed the game. However the enforcement of drinking laws and rules has always centered on the worst behavior and there will be pressure to crack down on keg parties....At least until this incident is forgotten.
U-Haul slams into Yale-Harvard football crowd, 1 dead -